Scratch the surface, and we all have fears about money. Fear is our most powerful emotion...it can motivate and it can paralyze.
Oprah Winfrey calls fear "False Evidence Appearing Real." Money can be a scary subject for many people, and like most important topics, women and men deal with it differently. Here are six money fears experienced by women–and what to do about them.
- Fear of Homelessness. Many women worry they will wind up homeless. It is critical to remember that your financial future is in your hands–being destitute doesn’t just happen. “Bag lady Syndrome.” The most documented female money fear is commonly referred to as the “bag lady syndrome,” or anxiety about finding yourself suddenly destitute and on skid row. Lily Tomlin, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine and Katie Couric have all reported suffering from this fear. Get informed here.
- Not Smart Enough. Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, money coach and author of Wealth from the Inside Out, says she often hears women complain, “I am too stupid to learn about finance.” “It’s not that you are not smart enough, it is that you have not been socialized to talk about finance with others, and women tend to learn through conversation,” Kingsbury says. Get informed here.
- Fear of Being a "Bad Mother." It is common for mothers to fear their kids won’t be able to afford college–and to sacrifice their retirements as a result. “There is no Pell Grant for retirement,” points out financial writer Dayana Yochim. There are scholarships and loans for students, however. Get informed here.
- Fear of Mistakes. Fear of making money mistakes means many women defer to their husbands to handle family finances–then find themselves lost in the case of divorce or death. It is critical women educate themselves about money and get involved in their finances, no matter their marital status, says Binney Wietlisbach, president of Philadelphia-based Haverford Investments, and a financial advisor of 25 years. “I can’t even begin to count the number of times women are excluded from the investment discussions,” she says. Get informed here.
- Fear of Taking Control. Fear of making mistakes also paralyzes many women from taking control of their money, or stashing their savings in low-interest rate accounts that actually loose money when taxes and inflation are considered. “Women need to recognize that everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of learning,” says Jessica Maldonado, vice president of Searcy Financial Services in Overland Park, Kan. “There are few mistakes that can’t be undone. But if your concerns are immobilizing, consider hiring someone to help you avoid those mistakes.” Get informed here.
- Fear of Divorce. Often,women stay in unhealthy relationships for fear that divorce will guarantee poverty, says Lisa Decker, divorce financial analyst based in Atlanta. “The fear of the unknown is more comfortable than the thought of struggling through money woes,” she says. Decker advises taking small steps to understand your financial picture, then find ways to make enough money to support yourself. Get informed here.